Professor Brian Towler


School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
+61 7 334 61233


Researcher biography

Professor Towler joined the School of Chemical Engineering in May 2014 as a joint appointment with the Centre for Coal Seam Gas (CCSG). Brian leads the Centre’s petroleum engineering research program and is a Chief Investigator on projects relating to the use of bentonite to plug CSG wells at the end of production and modelling of counter-current two-phase flows in CSG wells. Brian has approximately 30 years’ experience in chemical and petroleum engineering fields, and his research interests include wells, well integrity and drilling technology.

Prior to joining UQ, Brian was Professor and CEAS Fellow for Hydrocarbon Energy Resources in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at The University of Wyoming. Wyoming was at the centre of the US coal bed methane boom in the early 1990s and Brian conducted research in CBM/CSG at that time. He is widely published across many technical areas of petroleum engineering and has written three text books, including The Future of Energy, which was published in 2014. Brian teaches a number of undergraduate and graduate Chemical and Petroleum Engineering courses at UQ and supervises several research higher degree students.

Research Impacts

Professor Towler has had considerable impact in many Chemical and Petroleum Engineering fields. At the University of Queensland he has initiated programs using bentonite, a naturally occuring clay, to plug and abandon wells. This promises to be a more robust technology for decommissioning oil and gas wells, water wells and coal bores. There is considerable interest in commercializing this technology. He has also initiated fundamental research into countercurrent two phase flow in the annulus of coal seam gas wells. To assist this research he has constructed a transparent well in the Don Nicklin building (74) that not only provides data for the countercurrent two phase flow models that his team has developed, but also to allow petroleum engineers to visualize the countercurrent two phase flow that is occurring in their wellbores hundreds of metres below the surface.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Eningeering with Second Class Honours, The University of Queensland


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  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

  • (2017) Master Philosophy

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  • Towler, B. F. The Future of Energy. San Diego CA United States: Elsevier, 2014.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Towler, Brian F., Firouzi, Mahshid, Holl, Heinz-Gerd, Gandhi, Randeep and Thomas, Anthony (2016). Field trials of plugging oil and gas wells with hydrated bentonite. In: SPE Asia Pacific Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition. SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Perth, Australia, (). 25-27 October 2016. doi:10.2118/182199-MS

  • Khan, Charwarwan, Ge, Lei, Mahoney, Shilo, Rufford, Tom, Rudolph, Victor, Steel, Karen, Towler, Brian and Honari, Vahab (2015). Coal bed methane reservoir simulation study. In: Abstracts of AAPG Asia Pacific Geoscience Technology Workshop (GTW) Opportunities and Advancements in Coal Bed Methane in the Asia Pacific. AAPG Opportunities and Advancements in Coal Bed Methane in the Asia Pacific, Brisbane / Brisbane Convention Centre, (). 12-13 February 2015.

  • Firouzi,Mahshid, Towler, Brian and Rufford, Thomas (2015). Mechanistic modelling of counter-current slug flows in vertical annuli. In: SPE Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources Conference and Exhibition, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (). 9-11 November 2015. doi:10.2118/176885-MS

  • Towler, Brian F., Firouzi, Mahshid, Mortezapour, Amin and Hywel-Evans, Paul D. (2015). Plugging CSG Wells with Bentonite: Review and Preliminary Lab Results. In: SPE Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources Conference and Exhibition, Brisbane, Australia, (). 9-11 November 2015. doi:10.2118/176987-MS

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision